Note: Unless otherwise indicated, these beers and ciders—which are presented in no particular order—should be available at NSLC and/or private liquor stores around Halifax until supplies run out. When in doubt or desperation, check with the individual brewery/cidery.
The Church Brewing Co.
The newest beer from Wolfville's newest brewery is rooted in old competition: Apparently Belgian brewers invented Belgian pale ale in the mid-1900s to fight the increasing popularity of pilsners across Europe. Church calls Eight Bells a "hybrid" Belgo pale ale, rocking "aromas of lychee and gooseberry with light pine and white pepper."
Route 19 Brewing
Another new brewery, Inverness's Route 19 doesn't lack confidence. Its Sea Ice is a double IPA that's "proudly brewed in Cape Breton," and at nine percent ABV it might just knock you out cold.
Light in the Dark
Sea Level Brewing
A kölsch—easy-drinking German style—coming in at four percent ABV, Sea Level's latest can is literally a light beer released at a time of year when dark brews dominate. Or maybe it's the light at the end of the tunnel that is winter. Either way, this session ale is not heavy.
You'd expect a pilsner to be crisp without much hoppy bitterness, and Recess doesn't break from tradition. Schoolhouse says it is "our most approachable and sessionable beer yet."
Big Spruce Brewing
The Baddeck brewery goes big with an 11 percent barley wine. Aged for more than a year in barrels that used to hold peach brandy, Just Peachy! is an antidote to the cold spring/winter nights we're doomed to endure before summer arrives. Big Spruce calls it a "slow-sipping fireside stunner."
2 Crows Brewing Co.
"Ridiculous" is a word 2 Crows uses to describe Bedlam Bridge. Why? The double IPA came out February 29, the somewhat absurd Leap Day, and its cloudy mixture of Citra, Azacca and Australian Vic Secret hops makes it look like an impossibly bitter hop soup. Plus it's ridiculously strong at eight percent. Yet somehow this Bridge does not go too far; it is delicious and, to use another 2 Crows word, "velvety" to drink.
The Bee's Knees
Garrison Brewing Co.
Books and beers aren't supposed to be judged by their covers, but this honey wheat ale's bee-and-floral label, by Rachel Brisson of In the Land of Ray, is a winner. The Bee's Knees was all-woman developed and brewed in honour of International Women's Day, March 8, with 50 cents from the sale of every can going to an NS Community College bursary for women.
Boxing Rock Brewing Co.
Boxing Rock has a new apple cider, part of the welcome trend of beer makers exploring and expanding their brewing craft. Currently only available in growlers from the Shelburne brewery or the filling station at Local Source Market (2530 Agricola Street), the cider is also nameless. But a naming contest just ended, with the winning entry due to be announced on the first day of spring, March 20. Bottles of the cider might be ready by then, too.
Spontaneously ferment the juice of Gravenstein apples, let it age nine months in oak barrels, add some organic local ginger, then allow for natural carbonation in the can. The result is Ginger, a dry, medium-bodied cider that happens to be a strong 6.7 percent alcohol. Coming soon to Sourwood (5576 Cornwallis Street) for sure, and probably to liquor stores around Halifax.
Altered Belgian Tripel
Tatamagouche Brewing Co.
Brand-new in Tata's Weird Beer Series, Altered is a tripel (deliberately boozy, made with something like "triple" the malt of other beers) that stays true to form at 10.2 percent alcohol by volume. Aged in peach brandy barrels before going into large, corked bottles, Tata says Altered has a "glaze of peach syrup, earth and hazelnut."
Dildo Spindrift Altbier
Spindrift Brewing Co.
t recently brought out two new beers, both collaborations with other Atlantic brewers. One's a doubtless-tasty lager made with PEI's Lone Oak Brewing that is destined to be overshadowed by the other, an altbier collab with Dildo Brewing available at select NSLC stores, because honourary Dildo mayor Jimmy Kimmel and the rest of the world loves any excuse to mention the Newfoundland town. An altbier is a German style of malty brown ale, but also: Dildo.
Who Run The World
Chain Yard Cider
Celebrate the second of three brews on this list that were made for International Women's Day. Who Run The World is a flavourful, 4.1 percent cider created by Chain Yard and the women behind Windsor-based Sòlas Kombucha, and among the ingredients is lavender from Meander River Farm. This team effort is only available on tap at Chain Yard (2606 Agricola Street), until the small batch runs out.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen Cider
Saltbox Brewing Company
Mahone Bay's crafty Saltbox refuses to be boxed in by any particular style—it brews several types of beers and ciders, and recently released its own take on the pear-based booze known as Perry. The new Mad Dogs and Englishmen, which comes out this Friday in cans, uses ingredients like juniper to give the cider a hint of gin aroma. Arriving at 6.8 percent, this dog has some bite.
Lake City Cider
Lake City teamed up with Bishop's Cellar liquor store on this brew, which Bishop's describes as "a super-refreshing cider that's a little different than the norm." Pretty Please is an apple cider with cherry wine and vanilla, leading to some almond aromas in the mix. Pick your cherry-red can up at Lake City's Portland Street cidery or Bishop's Cellar (1477 Lower Water Street).
King Crimson Cobra Commander
North Brewing Co.
Today's easygoing co-existence of crafty ciders and beers may have gotten its start with the snakebite, a half-and-half mix of beer and cider popularized in 1980s England. But the snakebite hasn't been perfected until now. Beer legend North and cider insider Chain Yard Cider partnered to merge a cider of King Crimson apples with North's Malternate Reality, refermenting the blend until it became the Cobra Commander, available exclusively at North's taproom (899 Portland Street).
While You're Waiting
Tusket Falls Brewing Co.
Tusket Falls released three IPAs last week. The most intriguing of the batch is While You're Waiting, a peach-mint sour IPA with 6.5 percent ABV. Made with Galaxy and Citra hops, this rare combo of mint and sour is available now at the brewery (outside Yarmouth), and with any luck soon at Harvest Wines and Spirits (268 Baker Drive).
Annapolis Cider Company
Annapolis always has a new cider as its "Something Different" offering, a limited-edition brew (available only at the Wolfville cidery) with a community bent: 50 cents from every bottle sold is donated to a different charitable organization. The next one is a Perry (cider made from pears instead of apple) with Arctic kiwi, due to start pouring any moment now, when the name and charity will also be announced.
Pink Boots Blend
Breton Brewing Co.
The Pink Boots Society is a global organization that supports and encourages women in the brewing industry, and it's got an ongoing partnership with Washington state hops company Yakima Chief Hops. Breton Brewing used Yakima's Pink Boots Blend for this IWD brew, creating a worldly local beer you can enjoy on tap at Breton in Sydney, or at HopYard Beer Bar (2103 Gottingen Street).
Lunn's Mill Beer Company
Atlantic Canada Beer Blog says Extra Season is a saison made for Lunn's Mill's third anniversary, brewed back in February when blog contributor acbbchris made a visit to the Annapolis Valley. Get it from the brewery's taproom in Lawrencetown, at the upcoming NS Craft Beer Festival and in stores at the end of March.
Nine Locks Brewing Co.
If the idea of a fizzy, clear, semi-bitter beer isn't immediately appealing, you're not alone. "A bit skeptical initially," admits a Champagne IPA drinker at beer social-media site Untappd, "but I enjoyed this quite a bit. Dry, citrusy and very refreshing." Pop the cork—figuratively, by opening a can—and maybe you'll also be charmed.